The Latest: Crews to work into night at Texas train crash

AMARILLO, Texas – The Latest on the freight train crash in West Texas (all times local):

8 p.m.

Floodlights are being brought to the scene of a train collision in Texas as crews prepare to battle into the night a blaze that envelops the wrecked locomotives and lead rail cars.

The two BNSF Railway freight trains were on the same track Tuesday when they collided near the town of Panhandle, about 25 miles northeast of Amarillo.

Flames are blocking efforts to find three missing crew members.

Sgt. Dan Buesing of the Texas Department of Public Safety says rail cars up to 400 yards from the collision site are derailed, strewing rail cars and container stacks.


5:55 p.m.

Fire crews are still pouring water on the flaming wreckage of two freight trains that collided head-on while using the same track in the Texas Panhandle.

Sgt. Dan Buesing of the Texas Department of Public Safety says the flames from the burning diesel fuel of the two smashed locomotives are beginning to subside but that crews won’t be able to search the wreckage for three missing crew members until the flames are extinguished.

A voluntary evacuation and shelter-in-place directive remains in effect for some areas downwind of the fire, but Buesing says air quality samples near the fire have tested safe.

Buesing says the fourth crew member who was able to jump clear of one of the trains has injuries that are not life threatening. He is in stable condition at an Amarillo hospital. His identity wasn’t available.


1:35 p.m.

A spokesman for BNSF Railway says it’s not clear whether new safety technology was being used along the track in the Texas Panhandle where two freight trains collided head-on, injuring one crew member and leaving three others missing.

BNSF and other freight carriers have pledged to meet a 2018 federal deadline to adopt the technology, called positive train control or PTC.

With that deadline still two years away, it appears unlikely that the measures were in place Tuesday when the trains collided northeast of Amarillo. But BNSF spokesman Joe Faust says he needed to confirm with company officials whether any such technology was being used.

PTC relies on GPS, wireless radio and computers to monitor train positions and automatically slow or stop trains that are in danger of colliding, derailing due to excessive speed or about to enter track where crews are working or that is otherwise off limits.


12:30 p.m.

A BNSF Railway spokesman says emergency personnel are searching for three crew members missing in the wreckage of a two-train collision in the Texas Panhandle.

Spokesman Joe Faust said Tuesday that each train was carrying two crew members. He says one man jumped before the trains collided and is being treated at a hospital. The extent of his injuries is unknown.

Faust says it’s not clear how fast the trains were travelling when they collided, but the speed limit in that area is 70 mph.

National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Keith Holloway says the NTSB has opened an investigation.


11:35 a.m.

Federal authorities say there are injuries in the head-on collision of two freight trains in West Texas.

Federal Railroad Administration spokesman Matthew Lehner says that there are injuries in the crash between two BNSF trains near Panhandle, Texas, but didn’t specify how many injuries.

BNSF Railway spokesman Joe Faust said the collision happened at about 8:40 a.m. Tuesday. State, railroad and federal authorities have not provided details on the cause of the crash.

Panhandle, Texas, is about 25 miles northeast of Amarillo.


10:15 a.m.

Several box cars have derailed and are engulfed in flames following a freight train collision in the Texas Panhandle.

Texas Department of Public Safety Lt. Bryan Witt says the accident occurred Tuesday morning near the town of Panhandle, about 25 miles northeast of Amarillo.

Witt says he’s waiting for more details on the accident from troopers arriving on scene.

Images provided by KFDA-TV in Amarillo show thick, black smoke billowing from a jumble of some two-dozen box cars strewn along the tracks.

BNSF Railway spokesman Joe Faust says two BNSF freight trains were involved in the collision about 8:40 a.m. He had no further information.

No injuries have been reported.

Billy Brown, a farmer who lives in the area, says he saw a fireball erupt after the collision occurred.